By Scott Vanderpool

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) established an awards system for record sales today in 1958. Established in 1952, the group represents some 1,600 record labels, but is largely controlled by the “big three”: Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group. The awards, which have included digital downloads since 2004, go as follows: Silver: 100,000 copies; Gold: 500,000 copies; Platinum: 1,000,000 copies; Multi-Platinum: 2,000,000 copies; and Diamond: 10,000,000 copies. Not surprisingly, The Beatles hold the record with 76 Platinum certifications. The RIAA these days largely concerns itself with the protection of intellectual property rights, which resulted in their lawsuit against (then) 20 year-old Joel Tennenbaum, who’s parents received a demand for $3,500 in 2003 for his download of 30 songs, including titles by Aerosmith, Green Day, Nirvana, and Limp Bizkit. Joel’s family offered $500, and the case went to court, where a jury awarded the record companies represented by the  RIAA $675,000, later reduced to $67,500 by a judge who questioned the constitutionality of such a lopsided sum. The case has yet to be settled, though the Supreme Court has refused to hear it, anbd the RIAA has since backed off suing individual dowloaders.

Billboard magazine reported that singles by The Beatles accounted for 60% of all U.S. record sales today in 1964.

Eric Clapton quit The Yardbirds today in 1965. He’d become increasingly disillusioned with the band’s move away from the blues to a more psychedelic and pop oriented sound. Clapton recommended his friend Jimmy Page as a replacement, but Page was at the time quite happy in his job as a studio musician, and in turn recommended his friend Jeff Beck. Beck would preside over the band’s most successful hits, Page would later join on bass, then move to guitar and eventually replace Beck, ending up with the rights to the band’s name, which he used during Led Zeppelin’s first few shows as “The New Yardbirds”. All three guitarists were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band in 1992, and it would make Clapton the first 3-time inductee. Clapton would go on to play just the sort of music he’d quit the Yardbirds over with Cream, and later admitted that The Yardbirds had gotten much better after he left.

Pink Floyd played their first show at London’s  Marquee Club tonight in 1966. The prestigious club was seen as a launching point for some of England’s most famous bands, including The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson.

Brewer and Shipley entered the U.S. singles chart today in 1971 with a song that had been banned by most U.S, radio stations for it’s drug references, but they maintained that One Toke Over The Line was, in fact, about having a railway token at a railway station. Even though the pedal steel guitar on the single was played by The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, some didn’t get the drug reference at all:

David Bowie kicked off a North American tour in Montreal tonight in 1977, with his friend and former Stooges lead singer Iggy Pop as the opening act. Bowie had produced Iggy’s influential solo efforts The Idiot and Lust For Life, and had a hit with a cover of Iggy’s song China Girl.

28 years to the day after quitting The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton started a 3 week run at #1 on the U.S. album charts with a record he didn’t want to do at first, Eric Clapton Unplugged, today in 1993.

The Sex Pistols refused to attend their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today in 2006, posting a handwritten note on their website that referred to the Hall as “Urine in Wine”, adding “We’re not your monkeys. We’re not coming. You’re not paying attention.” The complete letter was read at the ceremony by Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner.

The Kinks were enjoying a resurgence in popularity today in 2006, having earned some £6 million with songs that hadn’t been hits for Ray Davies when originally released, when they were used to sell computer equipment, medicine, and detergent.

Seattle’s Starbucks Coffee announced it had started it’s own record label today in 2007, a joint effort with the Concord Music Group to be called Hear Music. It’s first signing was a bit of a coup: former Beatle Paul McCartney, who has since released 4 titles on the label.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted songwriter Mike Stoller is 80. He and partner Jerry Leiber, who died two years ago, are responsible for a remarkable string of hits with a wide variety of artists, including Hound Dog, Kansas City, Yakety Yak, Posion Ivy, Love Potion #9, Stand By Me, Jailhouse Rock, and Young Blood.

U2 bass player Adam Clayton is 53.


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